Kresiah Mukwazhi Showcases "Kirawa" at the Secession in Austria

Kresiah Mukwazhi is currently displaying, a solo exhibition titled Kirawa at Austria's Secession. The exhibition presents a new body of work consisting of textile paintings and video works. 

In the context of Zimbabwean society, Kirawa refers to sanctified or sacred ground, which is often cordoned off and used mainly by apostolic sects as a place of worship. Kresiah uses it in a similar context but with the gallery being her Kirawa, sanctified by the stories her art tells.

Kirawa is a place of sacred resistance, where I expose and push back against this colonization and socio-political issues forcing women into precarious labour aiming at reclaiming the sacred power that women are destined to have. The female body, therefore, becomes a site for resistance and a site to question power relations. At my Kirawa you will find the white cloth of purity and sanctification and you will find life. You will find real stories affecting real people and you will find a voice that stands for the injustices in the world.

Kresiah Mukwazhi Showcases "Kirawa" at the Secession in Austria
Kresiah Mukwazhi, Kirawa, installation view, Secession 2023
Image: Iris Ranzinger

As Secession's website reads, Kresiah's mixed-media collages, sculptures, videos, and performances are informed by her personal experiences and observations of gender-based violence, exploitation and abuse in Zimbabwe. In vibrant textile works, female figures perform seemingly vulgar and obscene gestures, hinting at the artist’s inquiries into the arduous working and living conditions of female sex workers in Zimbabwe’s patriarchal society. 

In this body of work, I am interested in creating moments of an imaginary safe place where we go to seek healing, fight battles, and find answers. I present a society that is at disharmony and disease because the life-bearers of this world are raped and abused every day. I ask who is responsible. When will it end? - Kresiah Mukwazhi

The exhibition by Kresiah Mukwazhi is a collaboration between the Secession and Nottingham Contemporary, where it will be presented from 27 May to 3 September 2023.

I use my body to personify the grotesque nature of perpetrators of abuse as I imagine. This is a somewhat difficult role for me as someone who wishes to resist these oppressive systems. I attempt to wear the face of patriarchy while fighting it at the same time. It becomes a face-to-face with the oppressor if you may. The intention here is to mock the system while at the same time triggering the feeling of trauma and discomfort caused by that system. Dressed as a robber to signify the theft and corruption causing poverty in the nation; I am seen with a whisk which I toss around to sprinkle the medicine on matters oppressing women in society and to chastise the perpetrators. - Kresiah Mukwazhi

The Association of Visual Artists Vienna Secession is the world’s oldest independent exhibition institution specifically dedicated to contemporary art.

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